Secret Daughter: A Novel

Paperback | April 5, 2011

byShilpi Somaya Gowda

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“Moving and thought-provoking and informative and imaginative and beautifully executed.  What a wonderful story!”
—Mary Jane Clark


“This book is a must for anyone touched by adoption, or India, or the delicate dynamic between adolescent girls and their mothers.”
—Sujata Massey, author of Shimura Trouble


Secret Daughter, a first novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, explores powerfully and poignantly the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love through the experiences of two families—one Indian, one American—and the child that binds them together. A masterful work set partially in the Mumbai slums so vividly portrayed in the hit film Slumdog Millionaire, Secret Daughter recalls the acclaimed novels of Kim Edwards and Thrity Umrigar, yet sparkles with the freshness of a truly exciting new literary voice.


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From the Publisher

“Moving and thought-provoking and informative and imaginative and beautifully executed.  What a wonderful story!”—Mary Jane Clark “This book is a must for anyone touched by adoption, or India, or the delicate dynamic between adolescent girls and their mothers.”—Sujata Massey, author of Shimura Trouble Secret Daughter, a first novel by ...

From the Jacket

Somer’s life is everything sheimagined it would be—she’snewly married and has startedher career as a physician in SanFrancisco—until she makes the devastatingdiscovery she never will beable to have children.The same year in India, a poormother makes the heartbreakingchoice to save her newborn daughter’slife by giving her away. It is ad...

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto to parents who migrated there from Mumbai. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1991, she spent a summer as a volunteer in an Indian orphanage. She has lived in New York, North Carolina, and Texas, and currently m...

other books by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

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see all books by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.83 inPublished:April 5, 2011Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0061928356

ISBN - 13:9780061928352

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Magellan's Quest for Death and Glory A very complete and readable story of Magellan's remarkable voyage. I was repeatedly astonished by the violence, treachery, and lechery, of the protagonists, not to mention their extraordinary courage. A highly recommended and engaging read.
Date published: 2015-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Satisfying and disturbing Canadian first-time author Shilpi Somaya Gowda has written a compelling story that had me from the beginning. Born in Toronto, Canada, to parents from Bombay, India, she had insight and good understanding of both cultures. She mostly told the story from the perspective of three women – the adopted daughter, the adoptive mother and the birth mother. It was involved and interesting and hard to put down once I started reading. I don’t want to give away too much and spoil it for you, but for anyone who has adopted from another country, or is thinking about it, this book gives a different view of some of the things to take into consideration. The characters are well-developed, their life situations are convincing and detailed, and the reader gets to share in the story of their lives over a span of twenty-five years. It was easy to care about them. In fact, I experienced a range of emotions as I read this international bestseller. I liked how the author headed her chapters with not only the title, but also the location, date, and name of the person the reader was visiting in that chapter. Each chapter is only a few pages long which made it easy to read when having only a few minutes. It also helped the reader get oriented right from the start and occasionally helped the author step over a span of several years to move along in the story. It was well done. The only thing I did not like is the way the author chose to end this novel, although it is quite believable the way it happened. Obviously the ending did not interfere with the book’s success. Even so, if you are one who likes to read the end of a book first … in this case DON’T! Please, do yourself the favour of not peeking. It is well worth the wait. There has been criticism that the author ignored or changed some things about the culture of India to fit her story, but I don’t agree. In a couple of places I had questions, too, but since I have never studied their culture nor have I visited that country, I accepted that perhaps it was something that is changing there with the times. I believed the author would know that, so I didn’t let my lack of information get in the way of a great read.
Date published: 2012-05-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Horrible I can't finish The Secret Daughter. It sucks. I can't stand it. As an adoptive mother, I am put off that the author did not do her homework and bother to use any proper adoption language. She leaves the reader, thus far, assuming that adopted children are incomplete. That they do not find satisfaction or fulfillment in being adopted. That they will always wonder who they are. Well ... politely put, PISH POSH! There's the feeling that an adoptive mother will always long for their "real" child and that the adoptive child will always long for their "true" family. And I really don't like that the adoptive mother pretty much doesn't even allow anything culturally related to that of her husband and adoptive daughter into her life, or even her home. Talk about self centered. I like to read to relax in the evening. I've been avoiding reading for weeks because I hate this book. I'm not finishing this book. So perhaps the ending is something worth reading to, but at this point in my very busy life, I'd rather forget about it and read something else more fulfilling to me.
Date published: 2011-01-11

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Editorial Reviews

A No. 1 bestseller in Canada, “Secret Daughter” tells a nuanced coming-of-age story that is faithful to the economic and emotional realities of two very different cultures.